American marten ‘not yet’ coming back to Pennsylvania

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — After years of research, a proposed plan, and a vote to table it, returning the American marten to the woods of Pennsylvania has been postponed — indefinitely. An American marten, which the Pennsylvania Game Commission proposes to reintroduce into the commonwealth.T. Graziano | Pennsylvania Game

Gun tax-funded public safety bill in legislative limbo

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — Republican lawmakers tend to emphasize public safety more, but House Democrats say it’s them who are dragging their feet on legislation that addresses the issue. “We’ve sent over 230 substantive pieces of public policy in the form of legislation to the Senate and they have

Game Commission control of rural land worries legislators

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — Legislators from rural Pennsylvania have been wary of expansion by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, concerned that more land under its ownership cuts into development and tax revenues.  Jim Hale | Pennsylvania Game Commission via Facebook During a Senate Game & Fisheries Committee on Thursday, they

More car dealerships join call to ‘tap the brakes’ on EVs

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By Lauren Jessop | The Center Square contributor  (The Center Square) – Nearly 4,500 dealerships representing all major auto manufacturing brands from every state recently signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to “tap the brakes” on his proposed electric vehicle mandate based on a lack of consumer demand. Since the letter was sent in November

Pennsylvania’s SNAP benefits up 76% since 2019

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — When the pandemic hit, state and federal governments upped financial aid to the public with more welfare benefits, stimulus checks, and loans. That aid is still high in some cases, with no signs of changing. In Pennsylvania, total monthly SNAP benefits are up 76% compared

Year in Review: Pennsylvania’s electric vehicle marathon

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By Lauren Jessop | The Center Square contributor (The Center Square) – Over the last year, Pennsylvania set out in earnest to meet federal goals for the electric vehicle transition.  Christen Smith | The Center Square It’s been an expensive and complex process, most of which is yet to be decided. The Biden administration set a target for

Bigger childcare tax credit coming to Pennsylvania

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By Christina Lengyel | The Center Square contributor (The Center Square) – Families will see a boost in their tax returns in 2024 after the state expanded its Child and Dependent Care tax credit. The expansion – part of a wider series of bills that direct state spending on programs for schools, the criminal justice system,

CATO: Pennsylvania ‘freer’ than neighboring states

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By Christen Smith | The Center Square (The Center Square) – A new analysis from the CATO Institute found that Pennsylvania ranks 18th nationwide for “personal and economic freedom.” The commonwealth rated higher than all of its neighbors, according to the report, based on laws and regulations that impact personal, regulatory, and financial liberties. Pennsylvania ranks fifth

Lawmakers still divided over marijuana legalization

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — As almost half of all states allow recreational marijuana, it sometimes feels inevitable that Pennsylvania will follow the lead of their neighbors. Wirestock Creators | Shutterstock During a committee hearing, though, opposition remains significant. The House Health Subcommittee on Health Care heard testimony on Wednesday,

Report calls Pennsylvania a taxpayer ‘sinkhole’

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By Lauren Jessop | The Center Square contributor (The Center Square) – An organization that ranks the fiscal health of all states said Pennsylvania scored a D after records showed the government lacked enough money to pay the bills in 2022. Grace David | The Center Square The recently released 14th annual Financial State of the States report by

Democratic governors to Biden: Migrant crisis is ‘untenable,’ border ‘too open’

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By Greg Bishop | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is telling President Joe Biden the numbers of migrants arriving to Chicago from the southern U.S. border are accelerating. The situation is overwhelming, untenable and uncoordinated, he added.  President Joe Biden greets Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley,

Pennsylvania opts into automatic voter registration

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By Christen Smith | The Center Square Eric Glenn | Shutterstock (The Center Square) – Residents receiving or renewing driver’s licenses and state ID cards will be automatically registered to vote. Gov. Josh Shapiro made the announcement early Tuesday, joining Pennsylvania to a list of 23 other states — including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Georgia,

State waives bus driver regulation amid persistent shortage

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square  (The Center Square) — The pandemic revealed all sorts of problems in Pennsylvania’s education system. School districts struggling to recruit school bus drivers was an overlooked one, and the problem hasn’t abated.  Students wait to board a school bus in Philadelphia. 4kclips | Shutterstock PennDOT, however, took a step

14 AGs want action on ‘plastic pollution crisis’

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By Tom Gantert | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Fourteen state attorneys general asked the Biden Administration to do more to “combat the plastic pollution crisis.” Jeremy DeBenedictis, President of Alterra Energy, stands in the storage area of shredded plastics his company receives from recycling facilities in their facility in Akron, Ohio, on Thursday,

Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom year may go bust

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Shutterstock photo (The Center Square) — A boom year from natural gas impact fees in 2022 could be followed by a dramatic drop in payments, according to a recent analysis. The data suggests that, rather than setting a new floor and bringing in steady funding in the future, recent record-setting payments are a blip. The analysis,

Bipartisanship shatters after Shapiro washes hands of budget compromise

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By Christen Smith | The Center Square  Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro unveils his budget proposal on March 7, 2023.Commonwealth Media Services | Contributed photo Editor’s Note: The story has been updated since initial publication to include a statement from Senate President Kim Ward, R-Greensburg. (The Center Square) – Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro blamed legislators, namely

Forward party sets sights on Pennsylvania

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By Lauren Jessop | The Center Square contributor Jun 30, 2023 (The Center Square) – A new political party wants to bridge the partisan divide and give voters more sway over the election process. Democratic Sens. Lisa Boscola and Tony Williams speak at an event in support of the Forward political party in Harrisburg, Pa. Provided

Paid family leave tax plan clears first legislative hurdle

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By Christina Lengyel | The Center Square contributor Jun 8, 2023  (The Center Square) – Long a priority for Democratic lawmakers, a plan to create a paid family leave tax cleared its first legislative hurdle this week. Following an impassioned debate between lawmakers on the House Labor and Industry Committee, a proposal to establish statewide family and

Pennsylvania’s biggest coal plant will shutter by July

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square Apr 4, 2023  The Homer City Power Generation Plant in Homer City, Pennsylvania, 50 miles east of Pittsburgh. By A. L. Spangler | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s largest coal-fired power plant will shut down in July, leaving the commonwealth with only coal refuse-burning facilities.  Decommissioning at the

No easy fixes for Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage

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By Nick Grasso | The Center Square contributor  (The Center Square) – While the symptoms fueling the state’s teacher shortage are many, apparent easy fixes are few, according to state officials and educators. College debt, stagnant wages and stressful working conditions drive qualified teachers away in droves, testifiers recently told the Senate Education Committee, as the

Hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk of automation and AI replacement in Pennsylvania

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Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square The U.S. job market is about to enter an era of unprecedented change that could impact tens of millions of workers. As robotics and artificial intelligence technologies continue to advance, companies will be able to leverage new, cost-effective tools to create and deliver their products to

Taxes, health care, housing riddled with regulatory woes

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – House Republicans want to prioritize the reform of regulatory issues in Pennsylvania, from concerns about taxes and health care to housing and infrastructure. A Tuesday hearing for the House Republican Policy Committee for “common sense state regulatory reform” highlighted the challenges Pennsylvania faces. The challenge

Pennsylvania EMS system teeters on brink of collapse, official says

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square Two Philadelphia Transit Policemen are seen by a Philadelphia Fire Department Emergency Medical Services ambulance. By Alan Budman The Center Square (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s hyperlocal emergency medical services system teeters on the brink of collapse and, officials say, it’s up to legislators to intervene before it’s too

Welfare programs worry lawmakers for different reasons

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By Lauren Jessop (The Center Square) – While senators on both sides of the aisle worry about the future of public assistance programs in Pennsylvania, the reforms under consideration seem unlikely to win each other over – even in the fresh era of cooperation ushered in by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. Still, optimism abounds. Sen.

Boost in Pennsylvania tax revenues negated by inflation

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square 12 hrs ago (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s general fund revenues have stayed healthy, and may outpace 2021 by 4%. However, inflationary pressures that have driven up the costs of goods and services paid for by the state, put a damper on extra revenues. An analysis from the Allegheny Institute highlighted the

As Pennsylvania certifies and audits election, lawsuits and a deadlock may slow it down

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As Pennsylvania counties submit certified election results to the Department of State, state officials are conducting audits to ensure no mistakes occurred.  Counties were to submit their certified results on Monday, and the department will conduct risk-limiting audits to check counties for any errors.  Lawsuits and a split county board could slow down certification, however.

About $4.9B in unemployment fraud unrecovered in Pennsylvania

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By Tom Gantert | The Center Square (The Center Square) – There has been $6 billion in unemployment fraud in 2020 and 2021 in Pennsylvania from which about $1.1 billion of that money has been recouped by the Pennsylvania Treasury Department. The fraud is spread among the traditional unemployment program and the temporary federal aid that

Pennsylvania veterans still struggle with mental health, homelessness

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Recent federal legislation has expanded health care benefits for veterans, but suicide and homelessness still remain issues of concern in Pennsylvania. The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, as The Center Square previously reported, expands and extends eligibility for health care through Veterans Affairs health centers.

Drugmaker agrees to $2.37 billion opiate settlement

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By Bruce Walker | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Allergan has agreed in principle to a proposed $2.37 billion settlement to participating states and local governments, including Iowa. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and a bipartisan group of attorneys general announced the settlement Friday. The news comes the same week as a $4.25 billion

Pennsylvania county, second-oldest and smallest, a ‘hidden gem’ weathering the pandemic

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Recent data from the Census Bureau shows that Pennsylvania’s median age, 40.9, is higher than the national average of 38.8.  A higher median age doesn’t mean a state will struggle to grow economically or in population – Florida and New Hampshire are older yet growing – but it can

Pennsylvania Legislature sends $1M to address hunger at higher education institutions

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By Joe Mueller | The Center Square (The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Legislature is sending $1 million to college campuses for the upcoming school year to address student food insecurity at institutions of higher learning. The Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program will help colleges and universities create or expand campus food pantries and increase awareness of

More oversight for Pennsylvania nursing home staffing agencies in the pipeline

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Health care service agencies, which supply nursing homes and others with temporary staff, could deal with more oversight and regulation if a bill continues to advance in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Price ceilings that would have capped what staffing agencies could charge, however, were removed

Across Pennsylvania, police funding and more health services unite parties

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – As murders have risen in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and public safety has garnered more political attention, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans have suggested different solutions, some big and some small. On public safety funding, however, both parties are aligned, at least for some level of increase.

Pennsylvania can’t control inflation, but it can reform its tax, subsidy system

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s high taxes and spending, and its use of business subsidies, came under fire from tax experts and business leaders in a committee hearing on Tuesday. The Republican Policy Committee held its fourth hearing related to inflation, economic growth, and the problems facing the commonwealth;

Pennsylvania’s difficult shift for funding roads

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania has the highest state gas tax in America, but gas taxes can’t cover its infrastructure needs in the coming years, which will require some package of policy changes. A new research brief from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office noted that the average state gas tax burden

For some Pennsylvania colleges, funding may get tied to education outcomes 

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – While one of Pennsylvania’s higher education systems has undergone major changes, another could see a funding shift that emphasizes results over routine increases. A new bill, HB2619, would award 3% to 10% of state funding for state-related universities based on graduation and retention rates, post-graduation employment

IRS Data: Pennsylvania keeps losing population and wealth

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) – Recently released IRS data confirmed some bad news for Pennsylvania: Its residents keep leaving for greener pastures elsewhere, threatening the future of the state’s civic bonds and economic growth. Put bluntly, Pennsylvania’s population future is bleak. While states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and the Carolinas

Teacher shortage: Pennsylvania bill eases access for out-of-state teachers into classrooms

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By Anthony Hennen (The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage is spurring action in the General Assembly to pass reforms and simplify its certification process for educators. A proposed bill, SB224, would assist out-of-state teachers’ certification to teach in Pennsylvania. So long as a teacher completed a state-approved teaching program elsewhere, they would be eligible for

Hidden pension management fees – hundreds of millions of Pennsylvania dollars – could become public

By Anthony Hennen (The Center Square) – Public pensions in Pennsylvania have a transparency problem. Though the public retirement systems pay performance-based fees to investment managers, these fees aren’t reported or publicly available.  Their costs, however, can be quite high. Pennsylvania’s public pensions have some of the lowest funding ratios in the country; the more

Pennsylvania tax revenues stronger than anticipated, $580 million above estimates

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By Anthony Hennen Pennsylvania’s tax receipts were strong for March 2022, with the Independent Fiscal Office revising its projections up by $580 million from its August estimate. Sales taxes, personal income taxes, and corporate net income taxes drove the rise, indicating that the economy is recovering from pandemic-related slowdowns. The labor force participation rate and

Pennsylvania bill would require mapping of overdose deaths

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By Anthony Hennen The high number of drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania have been rising, but state agencies provide data on them on a voluntary basis only. That might change with a new bill requiring law enforcement and emergency responders to update the state’s map of overdoses quickly. SB1152 would require adding information on drug overdoses

Bill would give Pennsylvania voters power to reject any new taxes

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By Anthony Hennen A proposed bill could mean more ballot referenda in Pennsylvania to prevent controversial tax increases, and also make it harder for localities or the General Assembly to boost tax revenues. Rep. David Rowe, R-Union/Snyder, introduced HB2432 to amend the Commonwealth’s constitution to add ballot questions during primary elections that would allow voters to override

New local taxes for public transit may be on the way for some Pennsylvania counties

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By Anthony Hennen Public transportation funding has been a growing concern in some cities, and a proposed bill could give some Pennsylvania counties the authority to levy local taxes to support their transit systems. Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-Chester/Montgomery, introduced HB2366 to grant Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties the ability to levy taxes “​​for transit

New report argues it’s time for public-sector union reform in Pennsylvania

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By Anthony Hennen A new report from the Commonwealth Foundation argues that Pennsylvania can increase economic growth and give workers more choice and freedom in their life – if the General Assembly reforms its government union like Wisconsin did a decade ago. “Government unions have enormous political power in Pennsylvania, due to a host of special legal privileges

Will the earned income tax credit come to Pennsylvania?

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By Anthony Hennen A majority of states offer an earned income tax credit, and a recent bill could add Pennsylvania to the list. The EITC is a subsidy for low-income working families, though childless workers can sometimes benefit from it as well. “​​In general, research shows that the EITC encourages single people and primary earners

Pennsylvania universities ask for more funds, talk up keeping tuition low

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By Anthony Hennen College costs and student debt remain high, and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s hearing with the leaders of Pennsylvania’s state-related universities was about how the General Assembly can help schools, rather than why its leaders aren’t doing more. While leaders of Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln universities noted more funding from the

Pennsylvania parks a major source of revenue – for recreation and natural gas

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By Anthony Hennen Pennsylvania’s state parks and game lands boost the state’s economy, livability, and attraction for future generations, top officials from the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources said. Testifying in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Senators focused on the economic potential of state parks and developing natural gas to provide

Pennsylvania Legislature plans divestment from Russia

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Writen by Anthony Hennen The Pennsylvania General Assembly is preparing to divest the Commonwealth’s connections to the Russian economy in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.  “I will work with my colleagues in the state government to stop supporting anything that helps Russia,” Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, said at a protest outside Philadelphia City

Staffing Pennsylvania prisons remains problematic

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By Anthony Hennen | The Center Square (The Center Square) — The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections continues to deal with worker shortages as the effects of COVID-19 have changed how prisons in the commonwealth operate. A Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday heard testimony from the heads of the Department of Corrections and Board of

Inflation, workforce issues dominate Pennsylvania House budget hearing

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(The Center Square) – Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development discussed inflation and staffing challenges, as well as the Wolf administration’s decisions to close businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, during a third day of budget hearings in the House Appropriations Committee. State Rep. Lynda Culver, R-Northumberland, highlighted record inflation numbers from

Report: School-choice demand shows why Pennsylvania lawmakers should expand programs

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(The Center Square) – A new report is highlighting the record high demand for Pennsylvania’s school-choice programs as evidence lawmakers in Harrisburg should consider better ways of expanding access for families. The Commonwealth Foundation report looks at enrollment figures gleaned from public right-to-know requests for Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax

Department of Justice flags Pennsylvania courts for opioid use disorder discrimination

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Justice is ordering the Pennsylvania court system to change how it deals with individuals prescribed medication for opioid use disorder after finding courts in multiple counties violated the American with Disabilities Act. An investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found Courts of Common Pleas in

Pennsylvania lawmakers host first hearing on legalizing recreational marijuana

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(The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Senate Law and Justice Committee’s first hearing on legalizing recreational marijuana featured testimony from state and local officials, law enforcement officers and security officials in the commonwealth’s medical marijuana industry. Committee Chair Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, highlighted the shift away from prosecuting minor marijuana possession crimes in recent years and

Pennsylvania Supreme Court takes over congressional redistricting process

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By Victor Skinner (The Center Square) The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted an emergency application to take over the commonwealth’s congressional redistricting process, though the Commonwealth Court judge overseeing the case will remain as a special master. The Supreme Court’s order granting emergency application for extraordinary relief lays out the process and timeline the high court

Wolf sides with local governments in rejecting gun rights bill

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed legislation designed to protect Pennsylvania residents’ Second Amendment rights against municipalities that enact restrictive gun ordinances. “Once again, this governor has failed to live up to his oath to ‘support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth,” said

Revised economic forecast shows higher revenue estimate for Pennsylvania

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(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) released an updated economic forecast for fiscal year 2021-22 that shows higher than anticipated revenue, driven by stronger wages and inflation. The IFO’s mid-year update for fiscal year 2021-22 showed general fund revenues were adjusted upward from nearly $42 billion to $45.3 billion, accounting for a

Pittsburgh bridge collapse shines light on Pennsylvania’s infrastructure

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(The Center Square) – As President Joe Biden highlights billions of dollars in federal funding to improve roads and bridges, an early Friday morning bridge collapse near Pittsburgh is highlighting the commonwealth’s infrastructure needs. Ahead of Biden’s visit to Pittsburgh on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg stood alongside Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and

Pennsylvania lawmaker pitches new sales tax for local purposes

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(The Center Square) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to allow counties to enact a 1% sales tax that local municipalities can use to shore up pension obligations, maintain core services or put to other uses. State Rep. Michael Sturla, D-Lancaster, spelled out the proposal in a legislative memorandum. “The impetus is local municipalities across the

Lawmaker proposes school choice for Pennsylvania students in poor-performing districts

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(The Center Square) – A Pennsylvania state senator is proposing a new school-choice program for students who live in the commonwealth’s poorest-performing public school districts. Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, penned a memorandum to her colleague, soliciting co-sponsors for legislation to create new Lifeline Scholarships for students struggling in the commonwealth’s lowest-achieving school districts. “Under this

Bill to increase caps on school-choice tax credit programs clears Pennsylvania Senate committee

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By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor (The Center Square) – The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee advanced legislation Wednesday to automatically expand school-choice programs during times of high demand. Sen. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg, pointed to his experiences with troubled youth during his law enforcement career and the attitude of disregard for education in some

Pennsylvania Senate Republicans score court victory in elections investigation

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By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has denied a request by legislative Democrats and Attorney General Josh Shapiro to block the release of voters’ information to the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee investigating the 2020 general election and 2021 primary. The Senate committee subpoenaed the Pennsylvania Department of State in

Mastriano seeks to bolster Pennsylvania parents’ rights

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By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor (The Center Square) – Adams County State Sen. Doug Mastriano introduced Senate Bill 996 this week to explicitly define parental rights as fundamental rights, a move designed to protect decisions on education, health care, mental health and other issues. “The liberty of a parent to direct the

Federal medical personnel headed to York, Scranton to fight COVID-19

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By Victor Skinner (The Center Square) The Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying dozens of military medical personnel to two Pennsylvania hospitals next week after a request for help to fight the current COVID-19 surge. Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration requested assistance from FEMA on Dec. 15 to support hospital staff and alleviate pressure from a

Pennsylvania’s highways rank near bottom of U.S.

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By Victor Skinner (The Center Square) Pennsylvania’s highway system is among the worst in the nation, ranking 39th out of 50 states in the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report. The annual report examines the cost-effectiveness and condition of each state’s highway system using 13 categories: total disbursements per mile, capital and bridge disbursements per mile,

Wolf signs legislation to reduce elderly prescription drug costs and expand broadband infrastructure

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By Victor Skinner (The Center Square) Gov. Tom Wolf signed nine bills into law this week, including legislation to reduce prescription drug costs for the elderly, expand broadband infrastructure, and allow virtual public meetings and instruction. Wolf signed House bills 291, 1255, 1260, 1837, and 2071, as well as Senate bills 208, 772, 729 and

Gov. Wolf signs legislation to address the state’s substitute teacher crisis

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By Victor Skinner, The Center Square House Bill 412, sponsored by Rep. Barb Gleim, R-Cumberland, is designed to help alleviate the statewide shortage of substitute teachers by giving schools flexibility to fill positions with retired, inactive or student teachers. “The declining number of teacher certificates issued in Pennsylvania, plus the strain of bringing back students